Posted by: elgringoperdido | January 19, 2010

Volcano beaches & moustasches

We did the whole bus journey from Flores, northern Guatemala, to Antigua in one go. It was a 12 hour bus journey since we were too greedy to pay 5 euros extra to get there in 9 hours instead. What a bargain. Oh well, on the 30th of December, I was back in Antigua, Guatemala in order to celebrate New Years there with some of the fellas I’d gotten to know back at the hostel.

Antigua bus station

Rediscovering an old hobby – fireworks – I got a bit overexcited and ended up wasting about 40 euros on it, but it sure was worth it! Got some cool movies of it but can´t upload them as of now. The most exciting was the German dude who tried to impress bypassers by instead of putting the rockets in glass bottles held them in his hand. Oh well, if people want to blow their hands away, it is none of my business, really. Black Cat hostel was completely jammed with people, every bed was taken and it was great fun for the most part of the night. At the time I hadn’t really encountered alot of Swedes during my travels and I was really surprised to meet a girl at the hostel who was from Sunnersta, Uppsala which is not more than a few kilometres from where I live. I wonder what the chances are on that, keeping in mind I had met like 10 Swedes altogether at that time.

Some bad events happened that night, nothing serious at all, but I will keep them to myself. I had an early night, getting home at like 01.30 in the morning. Even though when on the road life mostly rolls by in a smooth, steady pace without much issues, even when long-term travelling bad events, days or even weeks will inevitably occur.. 95% of my time spent during this trip has been excellent, but I have also occasionaly met dissapointments, lies and even deceipt. People you like will stay when you are leaving or go when you are staying, etcetera. The reason why this is inevitable is that you met tons of new people all of the time – many will grow to be your friends but there are also some that you will absolutely not click with at all. It’s not really a Nobel prize conclusion, but I do believe that all relations with other people, good or bad, will make your personality grow in one way or another.

Early on New Years day, I felt like Antigua was a finished chapter for me. Said bye to everyone and went to the bus station without really knowing myself where I was going. In the end, I decided that some beach time was on the agenda; the Pacific coast of Guatemala is located just a few hours south of Antigua, and followingly I decided that was where I was heading. Monterrico was the name of the place. I should have taken a shuttle bus or something since I wasn’t really suited for chicken bus travel that morning, being atrociously hung over and tired from getting just a few hours of sleep. The bus journey was OK until I had to change buses in Escuintla, the biggest city on the Pacific side of Guatemala.

On the chicken bus from Antigua - Escuintla. Look closely and you can see that the left volcano is erupting smoke.

It said in the guide book that Escuintla was slightly dodgy, but it says that about a lot of places in Guatemala, so it didn’t really put me off going. I got off the bus and immediately the simming, 32c humid heat hits me like a sledgehammer. Antigua is situated up in the mountains so jeans are perfectably suitable. Since I came from there I was wearing a long sleeve shirt and a pair of jeans. I died, basically. You could really feel the tension in Escuintla: instead of begging people would come up to me and practically demand money off me. I could see tourists weren’t everyday business there, people were staring and some crook-looking fellas tried to strike up a conversation with me. I kept on going and went into the police station to ask for advice. When they told me that the city wasn’t even safe on the main strip during daytime I decided I wasn’t gonna stay around for long.

Got on some sort of pickup heading to Monterrico and the first thing that happens is that some junkie/hobo sit down beside me and tries to force me to pay his ticket. I gently dismiss this and after some arguing with the other passengers he jumps off, giving me the eye and dragging his finger across his throat, signalling he wanted to kill me or whatever. It was actually the first time during my travels someone threatened me, and of course it was slightly scary. Anyway, the truck started rolling and I had an interesting conversation with a fellow passenger about his country, differences between there and Europe etc. I find it really interesting to talk to locals, even though it may at times be a bit hard to get under their skin and away from the common greetings and impersonal topics of discussion. It is quite obvious why – you wouldn’t really share your life with someone who just happens to sit next to you on a bus. Sometimes when you are travelling in this area, you are stunned by how little these people actually know about the surrounding world. They aren’t stupid, that’s not what I am saying, but you can really see what it actually does to people when they aren’t literate enough to read a newspaper. And they are poor – most people I’ve met hasn’t travelled more than a 100 km in any directions during all their lives. If someone at one point visited Honduras for the weekend, they are considered globetrotters. People drop their jaws when they hear about how I am travelling around the area, covering 9 countries in 4 months. The differences in what people can do with the money they earn is stunningly different from one place to another.

I came to Monterrico and immediately liked it alot. Monterrico is a classic beach weekend destination for local people from the capital city, Guatemala City, and has not yet become that popular among foreign travellers. I don’t think I saw a single foreigner the first day there. Somewhat of a change from Antigua, gringo magnet nr. 1 in Guatemala. Lots of people from the capital had been there for New Years Eve and as such the whole village was entirely filled up, finding a hotel room was like finding a needle in a haystack. After about two hours of searching, in the 32 degree celsius heat, I managed to squeeze myself into an overpriced hotel room in the outskirts of Monterrico. There was nobody there so I settled for some solo action. Met some cool guys at a restaurant and went out to a bar with them the same night. It was great fun and just what I needed at the time.

Two, three, four days passed by. I got a dorm bed in the only hostel and met some really cool Canadian treeplanters that I hung out with. The next day came some nice Swedish chicks we also hung out with. Days were filled with laying on the beach (which is made out of Volcano rocks so it isn’t that beautiful, really), eating good and socializing. Good times. Got some tan as well.

The Pacific side of Central America is very different from the Caribbean side, one of the differences being that the Pacific side has huge waves, which the Caribbean does not have. I like waves so I like the Pacific! The waves were like 2.5 metres tall so barely swimmable but we did it anyway. If you know how to swim and you aren’t drunk and don’t panic if you meet a rip current, you’ll probably be fine for the most part. I re-tried my old hobby of bodyboarding, too, and smashed myself even more. Later, we learned that some drunk Guatemalan drowned on that beach the same day… in general, it is wicked how people die all the time in Central America. Already seen 2 dead bodies.

We got to see when they let hundreds of these little fellas out into the sea from the beach of Monterrico. It was done during sunset so it was quite beautiful.

I’d like to talk more about Monterrico but there simply isn’t space enough. In conclusion, it was great fun, and I’m definately going back at some point in life. After this, I wanted to get up to the Bay Islands of Honduras pretty quickly, since I was meeting someone there (Elle). Had a quick visit at the ruins of Copán, west Honduras, it was cool since the ruins were really ornate and well-preserved, as opposed to the other ruins I’ve been to around here. Leaving Copán was somewhat of a relief – now there are no more ruins to see in C.A.! It sure is cool but it does gets very tiresome after a while.

I met some interesting people too. A French guy, probably in his late 50ies, had sold everything he owned and gone on a 2 year trip to Mexico/South America. He was already one year in, and didn’t regret his choice a single bit. Inspiring when people do that kind of stuff even though they may be caught up in the whole carousel of jobs, children and houses. Early the next morning, I set off to La Ceiba, in order to get to the island of Utila, Bay Islands already that afternoon The weather was shit, it had been raining for like 5 days and was going to rain for the next 10 as well. So the boat was cancelled, leaving me stranded in La Ceiba. It really felt like a dodgy place.

La Ceiba, Honduras

While Guatemala is usually considered the most violent country of Central America, during my month there I heard surprisingly few stories off bad stuff happening to people. In Honduras however, I stayed for like two weeks and heard tons of bad stories. Perhaps just by chance, but the country in general felt alot more tense than Guatemala in my opinion. People are slightly whiter, talk rougher Spanish (alot of rolling RRRR:s) and you see fewer women in traditional clothing. All men wear moustaches and probably like 40% have cowboy hats. Otherwise, Honduras is more or less the same as Guatemala. To me, already early on while planning the trip, it appeared to be the least interesting country in the region and to be honest, I didn’t really change that viewpoint after going. Oh well, back to La Ceiba.

It is supposed to have the best nightlife in Honduras but I really wasn’t in the mood to try it out. Got some weird infection that just wouldn’t go away. Made me feel tired and weak. I thought it was Malaria or Dengue Fever but to my dissapointment I guess it was just a cold of some sort. Also, as I said the town didn’t feel safe at all, constantly felt like someone was watching me from behind. Luckily, the next day I got on the boat to Utila… but more about that in my next post. See you!

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Responses

  1. Tjena, hoppas allt är bra. Riktigt kul me så detaljerade inlägg. Låter som du vart med om lite skit men annars har det nice:) iof första inlägget du nämnt nåt negativt haha. I skrivande stund är det 3minus. Nästan värmebölja här mot va det har varit haha. Sköt om dig åå ha det riktigt nice!

  2. Jag ääälskar sköldpaddorna! Vilka gullepluttar! Djuren på djurparken i Belize hade också varit riktigt coola att se. Lova att du tar hand om dig bara, är inte orolig för dig eller så…eller..men bara du är lite försiktig!

    Kram kram från systern
    (ser fram emot att träffa dig när du bestämmer dig för att komma hem!)


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